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MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan rejected the motion filed by an Iloilo City councilor to dismiss a graft case filed against him, saying that the years-long delay in the proceedings was justified.
Iloilo City Councilor Plaridel Nava II and former Iloilo City mayor Jed Mabilog face a graft case over an allegedly anomalous vehicle towing contract signed in 2015.
The initial complaint was filed with the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas on September 16, 2015, but the filing of information with the anti-graft court only took place last March 2.
Nava argued in his motion filed on March 30 that his constitutional right to a speedy disposition of his case was violated.
The prosecution, in its opposition to Nava’s motion filed on May 19, sought to justify the delay by saying that the Ombudsman’s rules require “layers of review.” It also cited the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused work disruptions nationwide.
In a resolution issued last Friday, June 23, the Sandiganbayan said “delay is not determined through mere mathematical reckoning but through the examination of the facts and circumstances surrounding each case.”
“There is no showing that the delays [in Nava’s case] were motivated by malice or were brought about to merely harass the accused herein. There is likewise no showing that the Ombudsman did not follow the prescribed procedure in the conduct of the preliminary investigation,” the anti-graft court said.
Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang penned the resolution, which was concurred with by associate justices Bernelito Fernandez and Ronald Moreno.
The case against Nava and Mabilog stemmed from an Iloilo City government contract awarded to 3L Towing Services in January 2015, which investigators found did not undergo public bidding.
The two officials allegedly had direct financial interest in 3L Towing Services and used a businesswoman to act as a dummy owner of the company. – Rappler.com